Mechanisms to cope or defend oneself (Unconscious strategies)

Throughout life, an individual faces challenges that may generate conflict or stress in them. The brain and the body work in coordination for the sole purpose of survival, adaptation, for evolution over time. 

Mechanisms to cope or defend oneself

Sigmund Freud came up with the concept, and his daughter Anna Freud gave some of the mechanisms that are so widely known. These are unconscious mechanisms which Freud explained as:

Mechanisms to cope or defend oneself

Denial: When a situation is overwhelming or too much to handle, one may respond by “denying” reality or refusing to believe it is happening.

➔ Projection: When a person experiences unwanted or unacceptable thoughts, feelings, desires, they may respond by projecting them on or attributing them to another person.

➔ Repression and Suppression: Repression involves blocking difficult, unpleasant, disturbing thoughts from entering into conscious awareness. When we consciously force unwanted information out of our awareness, it is known as suppression.

➔ Reaction Formation: An individual goes beyond denial of reality, and acts in a manner opposite to what they are honestly thinking or feeling when faced with a conflicting or anxious situation.

➔ Displacement: involves redirecting an impulse (such as aggression) towards another person, seen as a vulnerable or harmless substitute target.

➔ Sublimation: It is a type of defense mechanism that an individual may use to transform any unacceptable urges into positive and productive activities.

➔ Regression: A person who encounters traumatic experiences retreats to an earlier stage of development to feel accepted and safe.

➔ Rationalization: It is an attempt to justify behaviours that would otherwise be illogical or unacceptable logically.

➔ Intellectualization: It means engrossing oneself so profoundly in the reasoning aspect that you completely disregard the emotional aspect of a situation.

➔ Compartmentalization: A person may use compartmentalization as a defense mechanism to mentally separate conflicting thoughts, emotions, and behaviors to avoid discomfort.

Defense mechanisms are automatic psychological strategies that protect the individual against anxiety resulting from unacceptable thoughts and feelings. Individuals are often unaware of these processes as they operate. The defense mechanisms mediate the individual’s reactions to emotional conflicts and also to external and internal stressors.